NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

March 28, 2014

Man killed in Seabrook trailer fire

Police investigating death, cause of blaze

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — SEABROOK — One person is dead following a mobile home fire yesterday morning off B Street near the Hampton Falls border, N.H. Senior Assistant District Attorney Jeff Strelzin announced.

Strelzin, who heads the state’s homicide investigation unit, declined to identify the victim, adding that an autopsy would be conducted soon and that his office may have further information once it’s completed. Because of the presence of the body, police treated the fire as a crime scene; however, it is unclear at this point whether charges will be filed.

The fire, which was reported shortly after 10 a.m., quickly tore through the small mobile home, sending flames shooting out windows. One of the two men living there was across the street visiting neighbors when he saw his home go up in flames. That prompted him to rush back and attempt to regain entry to rescue two cats, only to be stopped by a bystander, according to Seabrook fire Deputy Chief Lawrence “Koko” Perkins.

Firefighters arrived in 4 minutes and found the home completely engulfed. It took about 20 frantic minutes to extinguish the flames as high winds complicated matters for firefighters, Perkins added. After the fire was extinguished, about half of the trailer was reduced to a bare skeleton of metal supports; the walls had been completely burned off.

According to a family acquaintance who visited the scene shortly thereafter, the man seen trying to rescue his cats was Michael “Monk” O’Neill. A check in the town assessor’s office showed the property is owned by Paul O’Neill.

Following the fire, the state’s medical examiners visited the scene, and the state police crime investigation team, along with local police, cordoned off the area with yellow tape. The state’s fire marshal’s office was also called to the scene to determine how the blaze began.

B Street is located adjacent to A Street off Route 1 near the Hampton Falls border. The streets feature speed bumps and contain a mix of modest ranch-style houses and mobile homes. During the investigation, access was limited to B Street and many cars were forced to turn back.